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why does cricket trump poverty?

 The best line to come from an Indian politician in recent months, to my mind, was the withering rhetorical question from a Bharatiya Janata Party MP this week: “Why are we obsessed with the IPL (India Premier League) rather than the BPL (Below Poverty Line)?”  

Never were truer words spoken in India's legislature.  

Unfortunately, though, nobody seems to have taken up his cry except for the much-admired journalist and commentator on agrarian affairs, P. Sainath (author of Everybody Loves a Good Drought).

This week while I was out touring the blazing sugar cane fields of Uttar Pradesh, the nations TV channels were running minute-to-minute updates on the affairs (financial and romantic) of the smooth speaking Shashi Tharoor (erstwhile UN muckety muck and now, after a cricket scandal forced him to resign, erstwhile member of parliament from Kerala).  In the meantime, a neat little factoid slipped by mostly unnoticed: 100 million more Indians are living in poverty.

I have to say I'm not terribly curious about Tharoor's relationships (already TMI) though I'd be keen to see my buddy Aravind Adiga give him another blasting.  But I am curious why, as P. Sainath points out, nobody cared much about the looting of the treasury to support a league that is still only dubiously successful until there was a sex scandal of sorts to distract from the numbing roll of batting statistics.  

Especially when many believe Tharoor's “improprieties” are the tip of the tip of the iceberg when it comes to chicanery in what Sainath calls “the Indian Paise Loot.”